Plans under way for the 40th anniversary of Bedford River Festival

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Bedford’s famous River Festival will take place on July 14&15 marking the 40th anniversary of the bi-ennial event.

First held in 1978, the 20th is now recognised as one of the largest outdoor events of its kind in the UK.

The 2016 festival attracted more than 250,000 visitors who enjoyed the unique mix of carnival, music and nautical.

This year’s River Festival promises to be even more popular with the event celebrating its 40th birthday.

Events on the river include competitions for the best decorated narrow boats and cruisers; an illuminated boat parade; kayak slalom; the ever popular Dragonboat races on Saturday, and raft racing on Sunday, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display.

New features this year include St Mary’s Garden which will showcase local arts and crafts and the Continental Market highlighting cuisine from around the world.

In addition, 2018 marks the end of the the First World War and the Heritage Village will be commemorating this by showcasing all aspects of the war with over 50 re-enactors, displays and demonstrations.

The Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “It is fantastic to be celebrating 40 years of the River Festival. This wonderful event is powered by Bedford Borough’s community spirit and there is always a vast array of attractions for people of all ages to enjoy, and I am looking forward to seeing how this year’s event develops.”

Applications for participation in the Dragon Boat races, raft races and Carnival Parade are now open, as are opportunities for businesses to get involved through sponsorship or trade stands. For information about getting involved please email